Polk Schools closes on new early college buildingPublished 12:58pm Friday, January 31, 2014
Polk County Schools Superintendent Bill Miller said Tuesday, Jan. 28 the system closed on the purchase of a new location for its early college.
“We feel like this is going to be a facility that will be beneficial to students long term,” Miller said. “This building is the best location for more of our students to take advantage of what the early college offers and be connected with their peers at the high school.”
A plan to move Polk County’s Early College began almost a year ago when the school system approached county commissioners about the school outgrowing its current space, the county’s former library.
In February 2013, Polk County commissioners approved helping the system to finance a new facility.
The school board originally asked the county for funding to either add onto the high school or construct a facility near the high school. The school board estimated the cost for an 8,000 to 9,000-square-foot-building at approximately $800,000. At this month’s commission meeting the board of commissioners officially approved $800,000 in loan proceeds to cover the costs of the building purchase, addition and renovations.
The current early college is about 5,000 square feet, which serves as classroom space for about 60 students. A larger facility could house 80 to 90 students, Miller said last year.
Miller said the system hopes to move the project forward quickly with the anticipation of having the facility open to students by late August 2014.
The approximate 3,600-foot property is located at 1545 Hwy. 108, across from Wolverine Pizza. This building currently houses Karma Salon, which Miller said would remain in the space until June.
The school board last March selected John Walters as the project’s architect. Walters was hired before the building was purchased so an architectural plan could be created. He said details needed to be ironed out so the county commission could borrow the $800,000 promised and seek approval from the Local Government Commission (LGC).
The Polk County Early College was created through funds from the Gates Foundation four years ago.
The aim was to allow students who might not otherwise be able to attend college the opportunity to obtain college credits up to a two-year associate’s degree. Students since then have attended classes at what once was the county’s library in downtown Columbus. County commissioners previously discussed locating a county vehicle tag office in that building once the early college program has moved.